My veiw on the movie "the village"

United States
September 4, 2008 1:29pm CST
The Village I know I'm a bit late on this one and it's probably been ripped to shreds elsewhere, but I finally watched the M. Night Shyamalan film The Village last night while I was babysitting for my sister's Little Bundle of Terror. Given my opinion of Shyamalan's previous movies, I've concluded that my decision to do so is more of a result of having my brain reduced to oatmeal after listening to a 22 month old Tasmanian devil screech "nighty-night!" at the top of his lungs for two hours than any deserved interest. The rest of this has massive spoilers, so if you haven't seen this movie and have any intention of doing so in the future and don't want to have it ruined for you, I recommend you skip the remainder of this entry. The premise from the beginning is that a small village settled in who knows where or when is surrounded by a forest where freaky creatures dwell that will eat them if they cross a negotiated and well-marked boundry. From the ending, it turns out that the story takes place in the present and that the town "elders" are actually a group of people who suffered the loss of a loved one and had such difficulty coping that they decide to timewarp to 1750 and establish a utopian-like community withdrawn from the rest of the mad, mean world. God knows how they found each other, but this is what viewers are expected to buy. Let me make it perfectly clear from the start that I have no problem with suspension of disbelief. Two blokes named Arthur and Ford wizzing around the universe in a stolen space ship? No problem. This tolerance, however, ends when the storyteller has, in one way or another, asked me to suppose that these events could conceivably happen and I'm pretty sure that's what Shyamalan was trying to do with The Village. In order to establish this community, these people would have had to have at their disposal sh**loads of money. Check. Professor dude's dad was a rich guy who bought the farm in a murder/suicide instigated by a business partner. Further, in order to survive the first year without dying of conflict, starvation and/or structural accidents, they would have had to have among their ranks a trusted leader, an architect, a contractor, livestock handlers and experts on their slaughter and care, health specialists, someone trained in agricultural matters (it's a lot harder than just burying some seeds in the dirt), a person who understood irrigation and knew how to manage a clean and replenishable water supply, someone who could sew (they've got to get those creepy yellow cloaks from somewhere), another who could make shoes, etc. You don't need me to go on. Okay, so that's about as wide as I'm willing spurn reality. I can forget about how ridiculously simple the installation Shyamalan's utopia has been imagined as long as the story that follows is a good one. It wasn't. It was bloody awful, enough so in fact that Shyamalan has officially earned the title at Chez Moi of Most Overrated Director Ever. If any of you visiting are fans of his, feel free to defend his work in the comments; I don't care if you contradict me and won't harsh anyone who might have enjoyed the film. I just didn't, on so many levels. I will say that, to his credit, Shyamalan's films always have had a great premise, beautiful settings and costumes and he gets stunning performances out of some stellar actors. Everything outside of that seems to fall apart. For starters, he commits what I consider to be one of the worst of cinematic sins: he bores me to tears. The pacing goes from unbearably slow to uncomfortably tense back and forth. The tension I can handle, but if I wanted to be encouraged to nap, I'd take a pill, not pop in a DVD. So, we've got all these "elders" who get together and have meetings to talk about, among other things, what terribly weird people they are (this is only a guess). They've taken some oath promising each other that they will never, ever leave the village and will establish an ersatz fable of lurking fiends for subsequent generations to terrify them from departing themselves. This oath is apparently held so sacred that the elders would sooner bury their own children than dishonor it (and remember, these are people who founded this place to begin with because they could not suffer death and reality normally). This explains why they are willing to perpetuate the myth about haunted forests to the extent that they're stitching elaborate costumes and staging sightings complete with ritualistic animal slaughter, but won't go a half a day's walk to get some antibiotics to keep a man dying of what would otherwise have been an easily curable infection alive. Apart from the oath, presumably the second measure the elders established was to adopt the speech patterns of a badly written novel set in colonial America. Listen, nobody anywhere for any reason ever talked like the characters do in this film. The dialogue is so atrocious, it's nearly painful to hear. On this rare occassion, I actually agree with Roger Ebert on this film, where he refers to the villagers as "the Stepford Pilgrims."I think, above anything else, what bugs me the most about this movie is how it suggests that life among a small, isolated farming community is simple and dandy. It was and is anything but. Women die given birth to small children. People are killed by diseases that the big, bad world has vaccines for. If they're contagious diseases, they could have wiped out the entire close-knit town in a matter of weeks. Farm work that would have fed and kept healthy a village that size is a labor intensive, massive operation. We know that there were crops; one scene shows a conversation between two characters standing beside a quaint patch of lettuce, but the roaming livestock are nowhere to be seen and apparently kept in a barn of some kind, under conditions that would see them all dead. Again, all of these minor details can be overlooked were they not in the context of this freaky oath to shun the world so zealously. The characters retreat to lick their nearly unhealable wounds following the emotional upset of the violent death of a loved one, but every subsequent death afterwards is hastily brushed off as an acceptable sacrifice, as if they'd decided "shoot if Joe Jr. gets polio. We're growing our own lettuce here, man!" The children are supposedly protected from the injury and harsh realities of the big city, but preferably subjected to a life lived in constant fear and paranoia of being mauled by some woodland beast who could strike at any moment from the surrounding forest? I'd rather be mugged in New York City, thank you very much. Then there's the striking idiocy of the elders. They're supposed to be skilled enough leaders to establish a thriving community, but so obtuse they decide to do things like send the blind girl through the forest to retrieve the medicine from the towns to save the dying man, believing that love would be her guide or something along those puke-worthy lines. Thinking like that would have seen the village collapse before the first meal was served. To better illustrate their incompetence, they've gone through the oodles of trouble of keeping up the lie of the danger lurking in the forests, only to later decide that the best place to lock up the town crazy for a few days with nothing to occupy his time is a room where one of the creature costumes they've fashioned is hidden under the floor boards. Then they are shocked - SHOCKED - to learn he's discovered it and put it to use as revenge for unrequited love or some crap like that. Luckily, the object of his vengence was blind, so she can come home and tell everybody that there really are evil, flesh-sucking monsters in the forest and the secret survives. A lot of people praise the film's use of metaphors, but I didn't find any. Some critic somewhere must have mentioned that they were there and the parrots just started repeating it, because everybody talks about them without ever bothering to metion one, much in the same way a film student will tell you that Citizen Kane is the best movie ever but cannot explain to you why they think so with any conviction. There's an obvious biblical reference, where, as mentioned above, the town nut inadvertently secures the safety of the town's secret. He ensures the community's survival, and he's named Noah. Get it? NOAH? Isn't that profound and deep?No, it isn't. No more than it was when Shyamalan called the kid that could see dead people in The Sixth Sense Cole Seer. At least that movie was marginally good. The Village is just a steaming pile of poo. And why oh why did the villagers always have to have names for things like "they who we do not speak of," "the box which locks the secret" and "the tool shed that shall never be opened" or whatever they were called? Given the circumstances of their way of life, "they who should not be spoken of" is a really stupid name to give creatures that you're going to have to spend a lot of time talking about and dealing with to survive. As for the secrets hidden in the shed, the best way you can guarantee that some teenager suffering from pointless rebellion is going to gather whatever tools he needs and go to Hell's end to find out what's inside is to describe it as "that which must never be discovered." If you really want to keep people out, tell them it's where you store pig carcasses or that it's the place you keep poop used for fertilizer. For goodness' sake, you might as well just paint the words "FORBIDDEN FRUIT INSIDE. KEEP OUT" on the side of the thing and get it over with. Who knows? Maybe it was one of the metaphors that shall be noted but never mentioned and just went over my head. Perhaps I'm taking the whole film too literally and should have let a little bit more slide. There could be some substance that I missed underneath the stylish but shallow surface of the film. Then again, it could just suck.
1 person likes this
2 responses
@Meljep (1668)
• United States
4 Sep 08
My take on "The Village" was that he was trying to portray certain sects of society who have cloistered themselves away from the world. They believe that everyone outside of their group is evil, and by staying in their little huddle or group that they will avoid the pitfalls that normal society falls into. If you've ever been associated with one of these sects, or maybe a radical religious group you will understand this movie perfectly.
@hellcowboy (7383)
• United States
5 Sep 08
I saw the movie The Village in theaters several years ago and my opinion on it is at first it was a good movie because of the monsters in the village but later you find out that the monsters are just villagers in costumes trying to scare the others which makes me think that the movie is kind of pointless and that they should have put more thought into the movie before releasing it.